"Harmony Day's catch phrase is 'Everyone Belongs' and in Griffith everyone does belong."
With Harmony Day 2021 fast approaching, President of the Multicultural Council of Griffith Carmel La Rocca reflects on why Griffith was chosen as one of only two locations in Australia to launch the national celebration.
"Cultural diversity is very important for Griffith and works really well here," Mrs La Rocca said.
"The Multicultural Council of Griffith has this theory that because we are isolated the different cultural communities work together and socialise together and I think this normalises diversity.
"Everyone belongs here. Those barriers between cultural differences are taken away."
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In 1999, Griffith was chosen by the federal government as one of only two towns to officially launch the first Harmony Day celebrations, and Mrs La Rocca says that was no accident.
"They chose two towns in Australia where multicultural communities were really embracing diversity," she said.
"They recognised that our communities here tolerated each other. That idea of 'everybody belongs' was really engendered in Griffith and that's why they wanted it here."
According to the latest Census data, over 2000 Griffith residents were born overseas and over 7000 people here have one or both parents who were born in another country. There are ancestries from Italy, India, the Pacific Islands, China, Pakistan and dozens more.
In just under 2000 households residents speak a language other than English such as Punjabi, Arabic, Italian, Samoan, Tongan, Gujarati, Mandarin and the First Nation's language, Wiradjuri.
And there are almost 1000 people in Griffith who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
Mrs La Rocca said that the uncertainty that exists around cultural difference doesn't exist here because the community has the opportunity to interact with one another in their everyday lives.
"All the different cultural groups here interact with each other whether it be in work, social occasions or events and that means diversity thrives," she said.
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